While I have yet to start at my new school I've been flying out every once in a while to get involved with my soon-to-be school. My most recent trip was for an admissions committee. I'm trying to get an insiders perspective o the incoming class to see who I can recruit. I had no idea how much schools are trying to expand diversity. It seemed that every candidate had a 'diversity' category the school is trying to satisfy. I'm okay with making some concessions for a candidate with weaker credentials because they're in a unique demographic, but their cultural backgrounds seemed to matter more than anything else. Crazy.
I feel very strongly about diversity. People come from backgrounds that aren't conducive to going to the best schools and having the best GPAs, and in the STEMs we have more problems than people. Bringing in some diversity allows us to bring in more atypical students. I am just so freaking surprised how much it matters. I was able to get two students through the admissions process that no one else wanted: one male, one female....both white. But I'll be the only faculty member with my specific specialty, and these two's research interest are right in line with mine. So I'm hoping to get them into my lab. I've already reached out to them.
The other faculty members were a little upset with me since there's only so much RA/TA money to go around and they would rather spend it on key demographics. The girl falls in to this; the guy doesn't. It was a surprisingly heated meeting. And I don't think they expected me to speak up as much as I did, so I'm certain that combined with some of my comments really rubbed people the wrong way. When I come in I'm thinking of bringing some doughnuts, bourbon, and weed. Might loosen some of these people up.
I had this same issue when I first started in industry: people really not caring about my opinion. It took some harsh comments and alpha-dog tactics to get people to respect me and my opinion. I'm certain I'm going to have to repeat this process, and I'm not really looking forward to that. I'm still trying to determine whether to be the really nice person (as I usually approach most problems with), or the hardass (as I approach the most caustic of situations with). To be honest, I have more fun being the hardass.
As an aside, I'm been watching The Americans. I freaking love this show. Unrelated point to the post, but I feel like me getting into academic is kind of like the KGB couple in America. Trying to belong, but still in my industry mindset.